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Online poker tournaments have been in a bit of a holding pattern lately as the 2011 WSOP continues to grab headlines from Las Vegas.  However, just because these tournaments have not gotten any bigger, it does not mean there isn’t still millions to play for each weekend. Between Titan, Party, PokerStars, and FullTilt there are millions upon millions of dollars up for grabs each Sunday, and that’s just in the bigger tournaments covered here.  While some might think online poker is down big since the April 15th crackdown by the US government recent numbers show that the US market only made up approximately 20% of online play.  Those based in Canada, Europe, Australia, South America, and parts of Asia have carried the torch for the online poker player during the Americans’ absence.  For those based in the United States there has been some hope in the form of Representative Barton and Frank’s different poker bills. Both have been drawn up and are hoping to make it past the committee stage soon.

The day got off to a mediocre start as the biggest events on European-based sites were getting underway. One of those, the Sunday $200,000 guaranteed on Titan, fell well short of its guarantee. With just 880 players in the field the iPoker flagship site was forced to pay out $24,000 in overlay.   Those involved certainly did not mind as they gained some extra value on their buy-ins by participating.  One such player, “mutterland”, is a highly-ranked poker professional known as “mrvogt” in the online poker world.  He has more than a dozen $30,000+ scores to his name including an FTOPS win, Sunday Million final table, and victories in the $109r and Sunday Mulligan on PokerStars.  His 8th place finish here only netted him $4,000, a paltry score by his standards.  Finishing two spots better was another well known professional, Charlie “chazmanchaz1” Combes who earned just $8,000 for a hard day’s work.  The former winner of the Ultimate Bet Online Championship Main Event has also won the $1k Monday on FullTilt as well as this very tournament last year for $59,202.  After the two best players at the final table busted it was a fairly weak finish as the top prize ended up going to “RIVERFSH” who earned $42,000 for the win.

Titan Poker Sunday $200k Guaranteed
880 Entrants; $200,000 prize pool

1. RIVERFSH $42,000
2. EkoPledge $22,000
3. maxxsprite $16,000
4. GotPotods $12,000
6. chazmanchaz1 $8,000
7. GEORGIE1965 $6,000
8. mutterlund $4,000
9. dsavo9 $2,800
10. Kaos7 $2,000

While the Titan $200k was unable to reach its guarantee the Party Poker Sunday $200,000 guaranteed had no such trouble. With 1,049 in the field the prize pool swelled to nearly $210,000.  The final table had some strong players including runner-up Manuel “young_diam18” Blaschke who improved upon an already impressive resume with a $25,176 score.  The former winner of the FullTilt Sunday Mulligan, Double Deuce, and Multi-Fifty is no stranger to big scores. However, all of his experience failed to pay off against the relatively inexperienced “Rofl_Lolboom” who had never hit a five-figure score before entering yesterday’s final table.   While he might have lacked in big scores like his opponent he is a regular in high-stakes tournaments on Party Poker including the $100k High Roller which he has final tabled twice before.

Party Poker Sunday $200k Guaranteed
1,049 Entrants; $209,800 prize pool

1. Rofl_Lolboom $44,058
2. young_diam18 $25,176
3. DaveOz5555 $15,211
4. MikeKB878 $12,064
5. KeenanCahill $9,966
6. KingKoAde $7,868
7. Konsumon $5,979
8. audi_rs5 $3,986
9. sculsta666 $3,042
10. Halfrek1623 $2,098

The world’s largest poker site, PokerStars, has hardly missed a beat since April 15th. Sure they’ve had to adjust their guarantees for losing 20% of their player base but otherwise things are operating as always.  PokerStars continues to bring the biggest guarantees, most diverse tournament schedule, and offers great customer support and VIP rewards. Recently they moved up the times of their majors events two hours to further accommodate their European player base and things might be changing even more soon.  This week their trio of major tournaments, the $500k Warm-Up, Million, and $250k Sunday500 all had strong showings easily busting through their respective guarantees. With millions of dollars on the line those staying home from the WSOP were rewarded with some epic prize pools and six-figure scores.

The day started bright and early with the half-million dollar guaranteed Sunday Warm-Up.  With more than 2,800 players in the $215 event it was the second-highest attended major in all of online poker yesterday.  Those at the final table worked through a huge field but were rewarded with $300,000 left in the prize pool and $88,390 slated for the winner.  Coming up a bit short was 6th place finisher “Eirik227” who earned the biggest payday of his career.  The $18,800 score surpassed a win in the $40k Guaranteed last year as well as the $215 Weekly 6-max earlier this year for $12,584.  Taking home the title was a small-stakes grinder “Gribnogrib” who easily earned the biggest cash of his long career. While he has done well at small and mid-stakes re-buy events this was only the 2nd major final table of his career and first victory.  Just days before this win he lost a heads-up battle in the $109r which netted him $9,300.  However, he was able to take out his frustrations less than a week later by winning the Warm-Up when he defeated “gurran1” during heads-up play.

PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up $500k Guaranteed
2,806 Entrants; $561,200 prize pool

1. Gribnogrib $88,390
2. gurran1 $65,941
3. RuiNF $47,141
4. Bresnjev $32,269
5. 1jos2 $24,412
6. Eirik227 $18,800
7. bonstill $13,188
8. Rob99 $7,587
9. LuckBoxDK $4,770

The Sunday Million continues to easily be the week’s largest online poker tournament. Even when FullTilt bolsters their Sunday $750k to a $1,000,000 guarantee by upping the buy-in to $640, they still tend to fall short of PokerStars’ biggest event.  Unfortunately with a big prize pool, huge first-place checks, and a lot of pressure, the final table has been quite susceptible to chip chops lately.  This past weekend was no different as the last seven players decided to chop up more than $560,000 in prize money based on chip counts.  Taking home the biggest piece of the pie was runner-up “dr.greenish” who earned a massive $128,865 payday for his efforts.  The eventual winner “pokernoeide” took home $81,473, $20,000 of which came after he won the tournament.  This was the biggest payday of his career in the first major final table to boot.  While he beat “dr.greenish” heads-up it was the runner-up who further bolstered his resume by adding a by six-figure score to go along with a win in the Warm-Up earlier this year for $152,177.

PokerStars Sunday Million $1M Guaranteed
5,636 Entrants; $1,127,200 prize pool
*7-way chop

1. pokernoeide $81,473
2. dr.greenish $128,865
3. pollaku $70,915
4. o_omx $93,714
5. lol1k12 $73,922
6. cimente $57,253
7. PedroKL $67,887
8. shpongle12 $14,090
9. miccabrio93 $9,018

The final major of the day at PokerStars was the $530 buy-in Sunday500.  The $250,000 guaranteed event tends to only attract good players due to its higher buy-in and later starting time.  This weekend was no exception as a strong final table made it through a field of 575 players to battle it out for a first place prize worth more than $50,000. Much like other events lately the Sunday500 fell to the chip-chop bug as the last three players decided to divide up the remaining $120,000 in the prize pool. Second and third place finishers “sfagundes” and “LStrelec” each took home $38,823 respectively while the champion, Michael “utreg” Brummelhus, earned himself $43,823 after the deal.  Finishing one spot outside of the deal was Fellipe Nunes who took home $21,563 for falling in 4th place.

PokerStars Sunday500 $250k Guaranteed
575 Entrants; $287,500 prize pool
*3-way chop

1. utreg $43,823
2. sfagundes $38,823
3. LStrelec $38,823
4. FellipeNunes $21,563
5. jarekk $15,094
6. youaremelon $12,219
7. greenrizla $9,344
8. alimounda $6,469
9. espartaco60 $4,054

One network still operating for US players is the Merge Network.  The Network is home to many interesting poker skins including Lock Poker, RPM Poker, and Carbon Poker. For more information on these rooms, their promotions, and other key characteristics make sure to check out the in-depth reviews on FlopTurnRiver found at the top of this page.  While the Merge Network was once one of the smaller poker networks, it has grown since Black Friday. With only a few places for Americans to play a lot of them have turned to Merge because of their game selection, software, and ability to pay out United States based players.  Their tournament schedule has also grown and is highlighted by the weekly $100,000 guaranteed.  The $100+$9 buy-in event has been struggling to reach its guarantee lately but took a step in the right direction this weekend as 830 players entered the tournament. Still, with 170 more to go to reach the guarantee the $100k has a lot of work to do if it wants to become a big-time weekend poker tournament.  The event will continue to roll on. Will it become like the Bodog $100k, never reaching its guarantee and paying out huge overlay? Or will it turn into an event like the Titan Poker $200k which hovers around its guarantee each and every week? Only time will tell but as more Americans get the itch to play online tournaments the Merge $100k should continue to grow.

Merge Poker Network $100k Guaranteed
830 Entrants; $100,000 prize pool

1. malihanovelle $20,000
2. Deaconthevillian $12,000
3. ydoitry $6,500
4. phearrrr2 $5,000
5. io4kopln $4,250
6. MrRightone $3,500
7. straxxd23 $2,750
8. Slayerpol $2,250
9. cottincandi $1,750
10. saints259 $1,500

One tournament that has been all over the map lately is the weekly $750k on FullTilt.  The tournament has ranged from a $640 buy-in $1,000,000 guarantee to a $216 $750,000, and everything in between. However, the tournament has been turned into a multi-entry event that allows players to buy-in up to six times. This is an interesting format that tends to help the tournament grinder cut down on variance and take full advantage of their skill advantage over both the short and long term. This week the tournament, which was its standard $216 buy-in, $750k guarantee, failed to gain enough players.  FullTilt having to add nearly $100,000 in overlay was a welcome site to those in the event but probably not too comforting for American players waiting for payouts at home.  The final table of the event failed to host a FullTilt sponsored professional but did have some solid players including Adrian “Adrian900123” Marin and “Schappuscha” who were part of a three-way chip-chop. Joining in on the fun was eventual winner “nurmine21” who earned the biggest payday of the bunch, a $105,343 score for having the most chips at the time of the deal.

FullTilt Sunday $750k Guaranteed
3,257 Entrants; $750,000 prize pool
*3-way chop

1. nurminen21 $105,343
2. Adrian900123 $96,270
3. Schappuscha $92,236l
4. Allinnet $49,500
5. xRIGAx $36,750
6. King2173 $25,500
7. WHOPPWHOPP $17,250
8. sgboys $12,000
9. ReifesEisen $8,250

Another event that has always struggled to reach its guarantee is the $100k guaranteed on Bodog. Even with upping the buy-in to $150+$12 the largest weekly event on the world’s biggest online sportsbook and casino has still not come close to gaining enough entrants to reach the $100,000 mark.  Still, as one of a few sites still serving American players it is a great option for a big Sunday score.  The tournament always pays $25,000 to the winner and this week it was “weHAVEaPROB” taking full advantage of both the overlay and smaller field to take down the title.  Runner-up “rhytmface” might have lost out on $10,000 during heads-up play but still took home a solid $15,000 cash for his efforts.

Bodog Sunday $100k Guaranteed
534 Entrants; $100,000 prize pool

1. weHAVEaPROB $25,000
2. rhythmface $15,000
3. bizzybstarr $9,500
4. Klean1 $7,000
5. KYDERBFYAN1 $5,500
6. whatever877 $4,500
7. thetank44 $3,500
8. djc666 $2,200
9. BiGSliCk44 $1,700